by Tom Utescher
A week later than usual, the Philadelphia/Suburban Women’s NCAA Summer Basketball League got underway at the AAU Renegades’ gymnasium last Tuesday, and even with that delay some players from Division I colleges will have to sit out the first two weeks of action due to an NCAA snafu.
The problems did not affect Division II teams, which are allowed to play as intact units, and one of the best games on opening night involved Germantown Academy graduate Monica Schacker (’11) and her Philadelphia University squad (designated Team Black) taking on the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia (Team Pink).
After a lot of back-and-forth, USciences finally took the lead for good with under five minutes to go and won it, 59-53. Recent Mount St. Joseph Academy grad Carly Monzo (a Loyola University signee) was one of just six players in action for a Kelly Green club coached by three-time MSJ parent and veteran summer league mentor Ted Hagedorn.
Not yet officially registered for college, incoming freshman Monzo was not affected by the NCAA troubles, but her team was hit hard by the delayed eligibility of most its Division I players. Facing a fully-staffed Team White made up of Division II West Chester University athletes, Kelly got clobbered, 99-49.
On a third court, Elana Roadcloud, a Springside Chestnut Hill grad (’12) now playing at Ursinus College, helped lead Team Maroon over Team Red, 48-42.
One of the chief causes of the intensity seen in the clash between the Black and Pink is the fact that during the regular intercollegiate season, Philly U. and USciences are both members of the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference (along with Chestnut Hill College and Northeast Philadelphia’s Holy Family University).
Schacker broke the ice in the game with a three-point field goal, and when Pink answered in kind, a pitched battle was underway. A senior guard out of Central High School, Najah Jacobs, helped Team Black break out of a 19-19 tie to lead 31-25 near the end of the first half, but Pink put up the last five points of the period to pull within one by the break, 31-30.
The Philly U. bunch still held a slim advantage, 46-44, with a little more than five minutes left in the second half, but an incoming freshman helped USciences take control in the stretch run. Guard Sarah Abbonizio, who helped Episcopal Academy win back-to-back Inter-Ac League championships in 2013 and 2014, tied the game with a pair of free throws and then moved the Pink pack ahead, 49-46, with a three-pointer fired from the left corner.
Late three’s by Abbonizio and by USciences standout Brianne Traub helped Team Pink hold off Team Black in the concluding minutes. Both Schacker of Philly U. and Abbonizio finished with 12 points. Team Black received 11 points from Jacobs, eight from Tori Arnao, and six from former Catholic Academies power forward Mary Newell, who played for Villa Joseph Marie. After a modest output in the first half, Team Pink’s Traub came on to net a game-high 17 points.
Another Division II team playing together, the White representing West Chester, took a 54-18 lead into the halftime huddle against Kelly Green, then cruised to a 50-point victory. Monzo ended up with eight points on the night. Her former Mount classmate and teammate, Alex Louin, is also on the roster, but she had already enrolled in a summer session at Villanova University, and so has to sit out the first weeks of the NCAA league along with the Division I veterans.
Despite the daunting deficit confronting Kelly Green from the early minutes of the game, forward Lexi Scrivano (Central Bucks East/Millersville) churned out 23 points in a lost cause. When the other roster members become eligible, Kelly Green will grow a lot stronger in the paint. The additions will include Louin, a six-foot guard, 6’1” Lehigh University forward Liz Sharlow (a veteran of Hagedorn’s 2012 championship team), and two 6’2” ladies, Maureen Leahy (Bryant University) and a former Inter-Ac MVP from Episcopal Academy, Megan Quinn (Villanova).
One local product who enjoyed success on the league’s opening night was Roadcloud, who recorded a team-high 12 points for Team Maroon in its six-point win over the Red. Roadcloud played for two years at Cardinal Dougherty before that school closed, then performed as a junior and senior at what was then Springside School. Her classmate at both schools, Michelle Boggs (East Stroudsburg ’16), is also on the Team Maroon roster this summer, but did not play on opening night.